Parmenides Academy  Strategic thinking


What is strategic thinking?

In the context of our courses, by strategic thinking we mean the thinking needed when dealing with complexity. The aim of strategic thinking is to formulate an integrated perspective of how a complex issue can be resolved.

By complexity we mean a system, an issue, a problem or a situation with multiple components that are “entwined” or joined in such a way that it is difficult to separate them. Since the components of a complex cannot be separated without destroying it, the method of analysis or decomposition into independent modules cannot be used to develop or simplify such models.


Why can stategic thinking be improved?

When we are confronted with new complex situations, problems or issues, we have the inclination to only consider and apply those problem solving strategies that are known to us. Furthermore, these strategies are sometimes unconsciously held and the application of a particular problem solving strategy is like an automated process, which does not always lead to the most optimum solutions.

There are two reasons why our strategic thinking can be improved. First, as a result of human evolution the human brain is unlikely to intuitively or unconsciously select the best strategies when confronted with complexity. The brain has been honed towards ease of processing and a resultant speedy outcome. Survival of early man – for instance when attacked by a wild animal- had everything to do with speed of reaction, not so much with a careful analysis of the various possible strategies and their outcomes. When dealing with complexity, speed and ease of processing can have a counter productive effect on the quality of our strategic thinking. Learning about our strategic thinking processes, in effect taking these into the realm of conscious competency and out of the realm of unconscious competency, will be a first major step to improve our strategic thinking.

Second, we only have a limited number of complex problem solving strategies at our disposal, which have mostly been formed during our studies and early work experience. By increasing the number and variety of thinking strategies, the quality of our strategic thinking will improve.


How can strategic thinking be improved?

Parmenides Academy propagates a 3 step approach to improve our strategic thinking capabilities. The first step is to become aware of how we are thinking when confronted with complexity and to audit and understand the problem solving strategies that are at our personal disposal.

The second step is to add thinking strategies (“thought-patterns of cross disciplinary relevance”) to our library and learn in what situations these can be applied.

The third step is to learn to combine, redesign or develop from scratch, thinking strategies to suit specific complex situations that we encounter.


Towards a theory of thinking

Parmenides Foundation has developed the C4 hypothesis towards a theory of thinking.  Read more.....